A Sankofa September to Re-Member

Each month, we post a series of blogs around a common topic. This month, Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis, NEXT Church interim communications specialist, will be sharing particularly timely past NEXT Church blog posts. These posts point to hope and wisdom for these days that you might have completely forgotten about but are faithful reflections. We invite you to join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Ever notice how you can hear a great idea, but when it’s the time to apply that wisdom you’ve completely forgotten all about it? Or even more, are there some things you’ve said you would not do next time, but yet when the next time comes around again, you repeat it the exact same way as if you don’t know any better?

As the church, we often become disconnected from the God-given gifts and graces – hopes and healing – trials and truths in our past. But there are many testimonies of faithful Christians. In the West African Akan culture of Ghana, Liberia, and Benin, there is a collection of Adinkra symbols that are connected to brilliant words of deep wisdom and spirituality.

One of these symbols is the Sankofa. Sankofa is symbolized in 2 ways: as two curved shapes facing each other, resembling something similar to a heart shape in our Western culture, and as a bird that is flying forward but looking backward as it tends to the future generations depicted as an egg.

The symbol of Sankofa is a sign to the divine truth that it is not wrong – it is not an anathema – it is not out of order – to go back and get which we have forgotten. In our Christian faith tradition, a key element of our faith is the ability to re-member our sacred story – to put together again – to experience anamnesis – a reconnection to the personal and communal memory of God’s faithfulness. It is in going back and tending to that which we have left unattended that we discover the grace of God in confession, vulnerability, repair breaches, and healing.

As many of our churches and community organizations are gearing up for what is coming next for the seasons and year ahead, we would like to re-connect (re-member) you to some communal wisdom from a diverse collection of voices from the NEXT Church community. As siblings and co-laborers for Christ, we hopeful are that you will find nourishment for your spirit and your leadership.

And – God-willing – we might pick up something we might have missed or left behind as we fly forward.

Interested in learning more about the connection of Adinkra symbols and Christianity? I commend this article and video on Weaving Adinkra Into the Christian Fabric by Griselda Lartey, Serials and Interlibrary Loan Assistant at John Bulow Campbell Library of Columbia Theological Seminary.

Rev. Shavon Starling-Louis is a member of the NEXT Church strategy team and serving as the interim NEXT Church communications specialist. 

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